There are very few games that can say they’ve made it out of a development cycle lasting longer than 10+ years. Even The Last Guardian (a long-running joke amongst gamers) managed to hit shelves before ticking over ten years (its cycle was roughly nine years). Youropa, a gravity-shifting puzzler from Danish outfit frecle ApS is a game that has been in development for over ten years that and has had its fair share of hiccups along the way. I mean it’s no Chinese Democracy, but ten years is a long time for a game to have been in development and come out the other side. Thankfully, those that have been waiting what would have felt like eons for Youropa have been rewarded with a clever and enjoyable puzzler that is as addictive as it is challenging.
Remnants of the French capital after they won the World Cup
The story of Youropa is fairly simple. You play as…You, a humanoid with suction cups for feet who must navigate a destroyed Youropa (a city in the sky) in order to return it to its former glory and discover your true identity. While it’s nice to have a backstory and have a sense of purpose, Youropa’s story is merely the passenger, with the gameplay the clear driving force.
Your unique feet give you the ability to walk virtually anywhere, whether it’s upside down, over edges or up walls – if your feet can stick to the surface, you can walk on it. You must use this ability to navigate the world (which is a giant puzzle), which in turn will you allow you to progress further through the fragmented urban maze.
Puzzles are played out on sections of the beautiful but torn world of Youropa, which appears heavily influenced by French architecture (the Eiffel Tower may have been a giveaway) and is connected via doorways and to progress through the world you need to open the doors, most of which require power to be opened. You must find ways to power the doors and proceed, however despite the puzzles being simple in nature, solving them is not straightforward, and most require a decent amount of tact and exploration. Sometimes powering a door is as simple as flicking a lever or finding the correct pattern for a power grid, but accessing these areas is where the challenge lies. You will have to navigate the world using You’s tootsie-suckers to following the power cables and discover how doors can be powered. Not all walls are climbable and not all ledges will allow you to walk safely over them, and if you try to manoeuvre to a surface your suckers can’t stick to you’ll fall to a certain death. Occasionally you’ll have a level, or part of it, that will require you to slide your way around obstacles (kinda like snowboarding) to some upbeat music. These are incredibly fun and help your mind take a mental break for a brief moment.
You can’t stop me no matter who you are!
As You advances through the world they (it is a genderless being after all) will acquire abilities that will allow You to interact and kick objects as well as jump and run, which will assist in solving the puzzles later down the track as they become more challenging. Given that all of Youropa is connected via these doorways you’ll have to do some backtracking and this is where your abilities come in handy, as doors that were previously locked can now be opened thanks to your newfound abilities. It may be that a door requires You to place an object (such as a box) on a pressure point to activate a door’s power source, or you may need to jump between parts of Youropa to access areas where power sources are located. The levels can be rather challenging and require a thorough search of every nook and cranny to find the solution, and like a good puzzler, the harder the challenge the more gratifying and addictive the rewards are. Players can choose to see the whole level from a distance and this feature comes in handy when you’re trying to figure exactly where to go. There’s also a raft of collectibles for those that like to collect stuff scattered across the world.
Despite the gorgeous visuals and the serene feel of Youropa’s fragmented world, traversing the broken areas is far from a leisurely walk in the park, with hurdles such as dogs and large beings looking to stop you in your tracks. These aren’t the only things in Youropa that can hurt You, with the humanoid affected by elements such as water, and will take damage each time it makes contact. Taking damage results in You losing a lick of paint, and if You becomes colourless your game will be over. Thankfully, the game is forgiving and you’ll only have to restart from the beginning of the most recent level. My only gripe is that sometimes it’s not obvious which ledges are safe to walk on, and the only real method of finding out is a leap of faith. Furthermore, a couple of the gameplay elements lack detailed explanations, but these are minor grievances.
In a neat addition, players can customise You’s look by changing the colour and adding face symbols to give You a whacky appearance. There’s also a level builder included for those who want to craft their own mazes and challenge others with parts acquired throughout the campaign.
My what beautiful eyes you have
Youropa is a charming yet challenging puzzler that is easy to get lost in thanks to its addictiveness and visual tranquillity. frecle ApS has balanced the game’s difficulty perfectly with excellently designed puzzles and levels that although can be frustrating never feel unfair. It’s clear that a lot of love went into making Youropa over the past ten and a bit years, and it’s because of this that Youropa comes out the other side a first-rate puzzler experience.
Reviewed on PC / Review code supplied by publisher